Rhododedron ponticum is an evergreen shrub belonging to the Ericaceae family, it was introduced in the 18th Century. It is an aggressive coloniser particularly in the mild, wet conditions of western Scotland.
In 2007 the area of Rhododendron ponticum within the National Park was estimated to be almost 4000ha (2% of the Park), we would expect this figure to be significantly higher today. Most is found below an altitude of 150m and it is virtually absent above about 300m.
There is a strong south-west to north-east trend in the intensity of Rhododendron infestation, with extensive, continuous populations in Argyll and parts of Loch Lomond and only scattered, isolated clumps in the far north and east of the Park. This trend probably reflects the climatic preferences of the plant, and could be affected by future impacts of climate change.
In 2007 approximately 33,000 ha (18%) of the National Park was within 500 metres of an area of Rhododendron (the theoretical limit of wind-assisted seed dispersal) and could therefore be considered to be potentially under threat of Rhododendron invasion. However, there was also evidence that vehicles travelling along trunk roads could disperse seed over greater distances (up to 5km).
Our Rhododendron Control projects, supported by Forestry Commission Scotland and the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority, will scope options for collaborative work with a view to the Countryside Trust leading a landscape scale project.
There are opportunities to tackle small areas of clearance work subject to future monitoring and follow up treatment plans, if you would like to discuss Rhododendron control please email firstname.lastname@example.org or join our conversations on Twitter #invasivespecies.